With injury and death rates on the roads increasing due to distracted driving, and the onset of crashes caused by self-driving vehicles, the number of injuries from motor vehicle crashes is skyrocketing. According to the USDOT and NHTSA, traffic fatalities increased 5.6% in one year. According to the USDOT, between 2014 and 2015 as distracted driving became a more serious problem in America, there was an annual increase in traffic deaths of 7.2% - the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. In recent years, pedestrian deaths due to vehicles have increased 9.0% in one year to the highest rate since 1990, SUV occupant fatalities have increased 10.1%, van occupant fatalities have increased 9.3%, and bicycle fatalities have increased 12.2% in one year. According to USDOT and NHTSA, nationwide, 37,461 deaths, and approximately 2,400,000 injuries were sustained as a result of motor vehicle collisions. According to NHTSA, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death from age 3 to age 34 nearly every year. So, comes as little surprise then that motor vehicle cases are the #1 area of practice for most personal injury lawyers.
There can be great complexity to these cases, including differences with head on collisions, side impact collisions and rear end collisions. Cases can be resolved through settlement, mediation, non-binding arbitration, binding arbitration or litigation depending upon the rules of your state, whether the case is a third-party case, or a first-party case, and other laws governing mandatory arbitration in cases worth a certain amount. Statutory attorney fees can be available in some states. In others, you may face issues pertaining to Personal Injury Protection or MedPay coverage. Settlements may warrant structured settlements, while others may require Medicare Set Aside accounts, restricted accounts for minors and incapacitated people, or special needs trusts. Defense medical examinations both on PIP/Medpay and litigation are a constant problem and the defense of malingering by insurance doctors is commonplace. This level of complexity doesn’t even consider the myriad of medical conditions that can arise from the significant forces generated by two or more vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed with considerable mass. Nor does it consider how to deal with insurers who will hire an accident reconstructionist or biomechanist to say that the force on your client’s car was less than 2.5Gs and therefore your client couldn’t possibly be injured. It had to be pre-existing degenerative arthritis, or abuse 40 years before the crash. These cases carry every insurance company tactic and defense excuse possible to escape responsibility. With increasing regularity, we are we are seeing certain insurers offer little or nothing even on serious injury claims, and forcing lawyers to go to trial to recover anything for their client.
Trial Guides’ first product was a book on the Colossus software system used by insurers to systematically underpay bodily injury claims. Since that release in 2004, most of the products released by Trial Guides provide methods to settle or litigate motor vehicle cases, as well as bad faith claims against auto insurers. This has created an unprecedented library of books and video resources aimed at helping personal injury attorneys to improve outcomes for injured people.
Top 10 Resources for Lawyers Handling Motor Vehicle Cases
The list below focuses on specific skills, knowledge and methods that will help you maximize outcomes in your motor vehicle cases. To see all products sold by Trial Guides that relate to handling motor vehicle cases, please click the button at the bottom of the page.
Mastering Motor Vehicle Cases
Dr. Arthur Croft co-authored the very first medical treatise on whiplash injuries - Whiplash Injuries: The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome. Over the decades since that time, he has published hundreds of articles on traumatic injuries, causation, epidemiology, accident reconstruction, and the junk science often used by insurers and insurance defense experts. He brings it all together on this comprehensive video set. While this set is helpful for any motor vehicle case, the CLE from which this DVD came focused primarily on minor impact cases. In addition to Dr. Croft, the set includes a section by lawyer Aaron DeShaw on how to use the science discussed by Croft in your litigation cases, how to get claims out of the Minor Impact unit of an insurer so that you can get better settlement values, as well as how the Direct Referral Program contracts between insurers and auto body garages negatively impact bodily injury claims. This set will allow you to understand your client’s injuries better and prepare you for cross examination of the defense doctors, crash reconstructionist and biomechanist.View Details
The Elements of Trial
It is clear that you won’t get good settlement offers in minor impact cases without going to trial (even when your client has serious injuries). With trial experience increasingly rare, The Elements of Trial provides a concise guide for lawyers preparing for trial. It is the trial advocacy that you need – teaching you all the basics, and written by a lawyer who has successfully tried a lot of cases. Written by Rick Friedman, one of America’s leading trial lawyers, the book discusses how to do everything from investigating your case and drafting pre-trial motions, to covering every phase of the trial from voir dire to post-trial motions. The book applies to everyone needing clear instructions on how to prepare and try a civil case.
Also available as an audio book.
David Ball on Damages 3
Widely considered “the bible” of handling plaintiff personal injury cases. David Ball on Damages 3 is the first in the trilogy of “must read” books for plaintiff lawyers and provides specific instructions on how to handle every part of a motor vehicle trial, from voir dire to closing. The 3rd (white) edition, contains substantially more information than the prior (red) edition, and is the only place where the concepts of the Rules of the Road™ method are integrated with the Reptile™ method of trying cases. Trying any type of personal injury case without reading this book first is probably malpractice.
Also available as an audio book.
Polarizing the Case
Exposing & Defeating the Malingering Myth
Reading Polarizing the Case is critical to winning minor impact trials. Two of the most common defenses in minor impact cases are that your client is malingering (consciously faking or exaggerating symptoms) or has somatoform disorder (unconscious faking or exaggerating). Polarizing the Case teaches you how to dismantle these defenses, and how to force the defense and defense experts to take a clear position in front of the jury that your client is a liar. The book teaches you how to win these cases and provides excerpts from a real trial to demonstrate the methods discussed in the book.View Details
Whiplash and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries
A Guide for Patients and Practitioners
Thirty years ago, Dr. Arthur Croft's best selling textbook Whiplash Injuries: The Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome was published, ushering in significant changes in the medical and scientific fields devoted to traumatic auto injuries. Dr. Croft’s most recent book—Whiplash and Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries—is written primarily for lawyers, and covers spinal injuries and mild traumatic brain injuries caused by a motor vehicle collision. In the book, Dr. Croft outlines the anatomy involved in spinal injuries, in terms understandable for lawyers. He also explains the mechanics of rear-end crashes, side impact crashes and head on impacts and how each of these result in different types of injuries. Croft debunks the "junk science" used by the insurers to...View Details
Don't Eat the Bruises
How to Foil Their Plans to Spoil Your Case
Jury bias is a serious issue in any case, but it is even more difficult in minor impact cases. Author Keith Mitnik is senior trial counsel for Morgan & Morgan, the largest personal injury law firm in America, and spends his time mentoring his firm’s younger lawyers and inventing cutting-edge courtroom strategies for cases that range from minor impact to medical malpractice and tobacco cases. Don’t Eat the Bruises reveals very practical topics for voir dire that will help you strike more jurors for cause, and set you up for winning themes that will resonate in minor impact cases.View Details
Working with Chiropractors in Personal Injury Cases - On Demand CLE
Approximately 50% of motor vehicle cases involve chiropractic treatment. Some lawyers worry about cases where the primary treating doctor is a chiropractor. Others get six and seven figure verdicts in cases where a chiropractor is the primary expert witness.
In this Trial Guides webinar, trial lawyer Aaron DeShaw, a former Doctor of Chiropractic, shows you how to work more effectively with chiropractors. First, he reveals a more effective way to qualify DCs to avoid motions as to qualification and win the ones that are raised. Next, he shows how to most effectively use chiropractic testimony in your arbitrations and trials. The webinar will reveal that contrary to many lawyers’, jurors’, and judges’ beliefs, chiropractic education requires equal, and sometimes superior, education to general practice MDs, especially in certain areas at issue in traumatic injury cases, such as spinal injuries, neurology, and radiology.
DeShaw also talks about where the societal bias against chiropractors arose and how to minimize its impact on your cases during voir dire and the direct examination of a doctor of chiropractic. This webinar will change your practice if you handle injury cases involving chiropractic treatment.
Exposing Deceptive Defense Doctors
Even if you can make it past the injury causation issue in terms of the forces involved in a minor impact case, then you face additional causation arguments made by the insurance defense doctors. Author Dorothy Clay Sims is known amongst the national plaintiff bar as the go-to lawyer for dismantling defense doctors’ unsubstantiated opinions. Her book deals with the common insurance defenses, including: that all of the client’s spinal pain is due to pre-existing degeneration; that your client is exaggerating or malingering; that the crash isn’t the cause of the injury; that pre-existing psychological conditions are the cause of the symptoms; and more. The book will enable you to reveal dishonesty, bias, over-reaching, and incompetence by defense doctors in multiple specialties.View Details
Reptile: In the MIST (and Beyond)
The Plaintiff Attorney's Guide to the MIST-case Revolution
A derivative of the Reptile™ litigation method, this book demonstrates how a number of prominent lawyers, trial consultants and experts win in minor impact cases.View Details
Litigating Minor Impact Soft Tissue Cases
This seminal work by Trial Guides authors Dr. Michael Freeman and trial lawyer Karen Koehler, and rewritten by trial lawyer Bruce Hagen, was the first to address how lawyers could fight the minor impact defense. This book has legal and medical content as well as practice forms. Like most binder books, West and AAJ will have you purchase updates every year.View Details